After transitioning from a very successful amateur career where he fought more than 20 times, Washington-based middleweight Brent “Mankill” Knopp’s professional career had been running smoothly up until his most recent fight.
Just over halfway into his CageSport 185-pound title defense against John Heath in April, the fight was stopped due to illegal elbows and thus became the only blemish on an otherwise stellar start to Knopp’s career.
“Overall, I think the year had been going well up until that fight with John Heath,” said Knopp. “I feel I was doing well in the fight, doing well in the cage. I was beating him up the whole fight, but I inadvertently caught him with an elbow on the back of the head.
“I’d seen worse on any national-level fight, but the ref stopped it there, let him recover, and it happened again in the third round. He was kind of looking for a way out, so when the doctor asked him if he was okay, he said no.”
The fight was ruled a No Contest. And while Knopp feels he should have been given credit for a victory, he told MMAWeekly.com that he’s already moved on and is ready to move forward with his career.
“He’s obviously a good national-level fighter, is a Strikeforce veteran, but he isn’t any different than anyone I’ve prepared for,” said Knopp of Devela. “I’ve seen all levels of fighters and I’ve I trained with all level of fighters, including UFC veteran Tim Boetsch, and Corey is not on Tim’s level.
“Corey’s a wrestler, so I’m definitely working on my takedown defense, my ground attack and guard, so I can get back up and keep it standing. I’m traditionally standing. I’m looking to keep it standing up and catch him with something and knock him out.”
Having spent a significant time honing his skills in the amateur ranks, Knopp feels with this fight he’s ready to establish himself as a force not only in the Northwest, but on a national level as well.
“As a pro fighter, Corey is the biggest name I’ve fought,” said Knopp. “I don’t know if he’s the best guy I’ve fought as a pro, but he’s the biggest name.
“Every fight at this level is an important fight and is critical because you’ve got to win to stay in the game. If you lose, it’ll just set you back. So yeah, right now this is the most important fight in my career because it’s the next one on the line.”